I went into my favorite Catholic Bookstore the other day and they had some blank beautiful prayer journals? Does anyone use one? Pros,Cons? I just never thought of this and was wondering if it is something that I should consider doing.
I’m not sure the difference between a regular journal and a prayer journal - it just all runs together for me.
Here’s my experience: Last year before Lent, I had a journal that had some scripture verses here and there. I used a daily reflection booklet during Lent and often used the journal to further elaborate on the reflection. Prayer journal?? I don’t know.
After Lent was over, I continued to keep a journal. Often it is about prayer related topics. Sometimes I make notes on what the message in the homily was on that particular day. Sometimes when I am reading the Psalms from morning prayer or evening prayer, something will jump out at me, and I will write that down. Sometimes I just write about the events of the day. Sometimes it’s a vent. Sometimes not. Sometimes I will write my prayer in my journal. When I go to Adoration, I always take the journal, and will almost always write.
I have found it useful to go back and reread. Sometimes I can see progress. Sometimes I can answer my own questions. The last few times I have been to confession, I have spent the week or so before, rereading entries and using that as an examination of conscience. It has worked very well. It’s hard to wiggle out of a particular behavior or attitude when it’s right there in black and white.
The last time I went to confession, it was surprisingly difficult, and I used my journal to reflect on that experience. Sometimes it just helps me process things by writing.
I have also been known to write down things (names, phone numbers) that I don’t want to forget.
I can’t think of any cons, other than someone coming across your thoughts and not respecting your privacy. :eek:
I just use a small sized notebook - about 7x7 or so - for my journal and that works just fine.
Give it a try?
If you’re going to bring your prayer journal with you when you leave home (e.g., to church, etc.), I would warn against writing anything in it that you wouldn’t want a stranger to read. I had a canvas bag stolen from my car once in a church parking lot. The bag contained my prayer journal, along with several other items. I had to just turn the matter over to God and trust Him not to let anything bad come of it.
Another matter: if you’re not careful, journaling can become an end in itself, rather than a means to an end (better prayer). It’s easy to start writing so much that you have little time left for actual prayer. When I found myself in this situation, I stopped journaling and started PRAYING.
Also, journaling can (but doesn’t always) become a source of pride — one can become prideful about the writing itself, and this defeats the purpose. If you find this happening, it might be good to stop or to discuss it with your spiritual director or confessor. Some spiritual directors encourage journaling, others recommend strongly against it.
The following is from Father Thomas Dubay’s book, Seeking Spiritual Direction:
Question: What do you think of keeping a prayer journal? Is this beneficial or is it a distraction, another passing fad?
Comment: Whatever position one takes on this practice, a prayer journal is only a means to an end. It should be viewed and evaluated as such. To keep a record of one’s prayer as a goal in itself could be a form of narcissism. Hence, if journaling really helps one grow, well and good. But if it subtly becomes a practice sought for itself, it is an encumbrance. St. Teresa took a dim view of writing about one’s prayer. In her own down-to-earth sort of way she noted that if one has a real experience of God, it will not be forgotten. If it would be forgotten, she considered it not worth recording.
You always start a computer document as a prayer journal if you wish, even if you uses note to transfer later when you’re away from the computer. You can format the document and inset whatever pictures you wish, and print the document if you wish at any time.
I dont keep a prayer journal per se…I keep a daily diary and absolutely everything goes into it - I am not at all selective. Nowadays it is a Word document. Prior to acquiring this computer I wrote into exercise books. I also keep a little book to record daily faults and failings. Since I live alone (and also take shorthand which only I can read) I have no qualms about doing so.
I did have someone staying here for a while who did take a number of my daily diary exercise books…and as a previous poster said, one simply consigns the matter to The Lord and moves on in Peace.
These are all wonderful ideas. I surely don’t want it to be prideful or bad of course. I might use it to keep scripture I want to remember or an “a-ha” moment. I really like the idea of writing my faults for the day as an examination of conscience. I will do some thinking and decide if I should or should not use a journal. I still am thinking about it. Why do I make things so complicated?:shrug:
I have one journal I have been using for years which is specifically a scripture journal, and I use it only for lectio divina. It is a rather small leather bound volume received as a gift, and I use a fountain pen, which is only for this purpose, and it stays in my prayer corner. For that I write ONLY the word or verse from scripture that speaks to me, and only when it is so compelling I need to record it, therefore this is a small compendium of scripture that has been especially meaningful to me, especially in discerning movement of the Holy Spirit in my life.
I have another journal that is just my journal, that I have with me most of the time, in my chapel bag (with prayerbook, bible, monthly scripture magazine, Word Among us or Magnificat). In that I write my own thoughts as they arise in prayer, usually during adoration, but I take it on retreats as well. That is just a spiral from the bookstore, I buy them when they are on sale, as long as the cover is sturdy enough to write on my lap, the spiral holds my pen (I buy slim pens for this purpose), and the paper has wide ruled lines.
since I already have a devotional, I see no need to buy an expensive “prayer journal” but if it helps you, go for it.
Word Among Us has an annual journal tied to the readings which you can get with a subscription.
I agree strongly. I had kept a journal for awhile… but I felt compelled to discontinue it… for similar reasons.
I have kept journals for years. Sometimes I write every day but there are times when I don’t write for weeks. I write thoughts, conversations, prayers, meditations, things people said to me, anything that comes to mind. I choose pretty books for my journals and I keep them out, tied with a bow. No one in my family dares touch them as they respect my privacy. I told them that they can read them when I am dead. They may find some surprises but nothing like Bridges of Madison County. I also bring my journal with me when I see my director as it helps me recall things I want to discuss.
I too have a bag with all my prayer stuff that I carry around with me to work, adoration, retreats, etc. It has my journal, my brievery, devotional books, a pen and a small copy of the NT and a rosary if I remember to put it back in the bag.
the caveat not to confuse journaling with prayer is a very good one, and I am glad someone has made this very important point. It is an aid to prayer, and to reflection on the matter of your prayer, but journalling is not prayer in and of itself. It can easily become a means where the words I write replace what God is speaking to my heart, and I confuse my words with His.
I keep a journal, and it’s interesting to read it later on and see what has changed or how God has answered my prayers, etc the only danger I see in it is pride, like others have said, or if it replaces your regular prayer time. But keeping a journal in of itself is a great idea!
An earlier poster mentioned lectio divina. Working with a spiritual director, I was told to use the verse I found through *lectio **divina *as the first line in my daily journal.
Others use prayer journals to keep track of prayers answered.
It has been awhile since I have actually written in my journal. It started by just writing my thoughts during difficult times. It was a safe way to deal with emotions. An occasional look back shows the changes in my life and perspective over time.
I remember once receiving an answer to a prayer that I had not remembered making. There it was in black and white. So much for pride:blush:
Using the journal for recording emotions came before using it for lectio divina.
I started a prayer journal. I started it because I felt i was asking the Lord for many different things. And although he knows what we need and why we needed…I wanted to make sure I was letting him know myself.
I am so glad I started the journal…because I could read back my prayers and see how the Lord really helped me.
Once I get over my dark period…I hope to use my journal as a means to reflect on prayers, scripture, graces…etc.
My journal is basically … my conversation with the Lord.
It is actually on a special retreat that I learned how to journal. It was an intensive journal workshop that included basic entries and more intensive prayer entries. What I have kept from that retreat is how to date my entries, including the time that I am writing and focusing on thoughts and emotions, not simply the events that are taking place. Instead of writing about running for thirty minutes, I write about the tightness of my muscles as I struggle up a hill remembering past events (described) and questions about how I may have responded and what I would do differently. etc. etc. Instead of writing about getting together with friends I write about the comfort my friends give or the awkwardness I felt during a particular situation.
And yes, journalling is definitely conversation with the Lord, including fears, joys, triumphs, and failures.
The ideas you have given me are wonderful. What exactly is lectio divina? Where could I find some information on the jouranling you mentioned that you particpated in DebChris?
Here is a reference thread on lectio divina:
All the posts put together give a summary of what lectio divina is.